were equivalent for opportunity. yet, until this fall morning, new york was no more assured of becoming the empire state than was virginia, pennsylvania, or even ohio, south carolina, or illinois. nor was the nation assured of becoming the global empyre it remains. in 1825, the united states were still plural and few, not a singular nation state, but sovereign states with a constitutionally limited federal government. as late as 1855 walt whitman proclaimed, quote, "the united states with vaining full of poetical stuff," and lincoln declared they changed the grammar and perception in the 1860s. in 1825, the sea to shining sea continental nation, a patriotic song, still a dream.